CAPHTOR (kăf'tôr, Heb. kaphtôr). The place from which the Philistines originally came (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
kaf’-tor, kaf’-tor-im (kaphtor, kaphtorim; Kappadokia, Gaphtorieim, Kaphtoriem).
1. First Theory: Crete:
The country and people whence came the Philistines (
2. Second Theory: Phoenicia:
Ebers (Aegypten und die Bucher Moses, 130 ff) thought that Caphtor represented the Egyptian Kaft-ur, holding that Kaft was the Egyptian name for the colonies of Phoenicians in the Delta, extended to cover the Phoenicians in the north and their colonies. Kaft-ur, therefore, would mean "Greater Phoenicia." But the discovery of Kaptar among the names of countries conquered by Ptolemy Auletes in an inscription on the Temple of Kom Ombo is fatal to this theory.
3. Third Theory: Cilicia:
A third theory would identify Caphtor with the Kafto of the Egyptian inscriptions. As early as the time of Thotmes III the inhabitants of this land, the Kafti, are mentioned in the records. In the trilingual inscription of Canopus the name is rendered in Greek by Phoinike, "Phoenicia." This seems to be an error, as the Kafti portrayed on the monuments have no features in common with the Semites. They certainly represent a western type. It is held that the Egyptian Kafto is a district in Asia Minor, probably Cilicia. The sea- pirates, the purasati, whom Rameses III subdued (circa 1200 BC), entered Syria from the north. The "R" in the name is the Egyptian equivalent of the Semitic "L". Therefore Purasati = Pilishti, "Philistines." And so it is proposed to identify Caphtor with Cilicia. A serious objection to this theory is the absence of the final "r" in Kafto. McCurdy’s suggestion (HDB) that it represents a Hebrew waw, written as a vowel-letter in an original Kafto, does not carry conviction.
It is impossible to give a certain decision; but the balance of probability seems still inclined to the first theory.